“U.S. Military Response in Today’s Middle East”

 A Conversation with General (Ret.) John Abizaid 

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Author: Brian Hopkins

On October 20, 2015, the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy in conjunction with the Duke International Relations Association and the Duke University Islamic Studies Center hosted General John Abizaid, former combatant commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM).  Professor Peter Feaver moderated the talk entitled “U.S. Military Response in Today’s Middle East.”

General Abizaid began discussing the Middle East by noting that. “the world imposed order is breaking down.  In fact it has broken down.  It’s gone.”  General Abizaid attributed this disintegration to what he described as “Iran forcing a sectarian conflict on a scale that the Middle East hasn’t seen in a long time.”

“Humpty Dumpty is broken and is not coming back again.  The world has to understand this.”

With regard to combating the growing militant group ISIS, General Abizaid noted that, “our current strategy doesn’t stop terror groups from recruiting in increasing numbers.”  He added, “we need to be more impatient.”

“We have to be willing to use our military forces to achieve our political goals. Extended indecisive use of force is dangerous.”

Russia, General Abizaid noted, simply seeks a seat at the table in developing a political solution for the future of Syria.  That, he said, was the primary motivation for their involvement.

General Abizaid stressed the impact that budget cuts like sequestration have on the readiness of our military to respond around the world.  “When you cut military size, decrease readiness, and stop valuing service, you will have a problem. This is a bipartisan issue.”

Most importantly, he concluded by saying, “Military power only buys time. There has to be a political plan in place after.”